What is NEW CRITICISM? What does NEW CRITICISM mean? NEW CRITICISM meaning - NEW CRITICISM definition - NEW CRITICISM explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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New Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American literary criticism in the middle decades of the 20th century. It emphasized close reading, particularly of poetry, to discover how a work of literature functioned as a self-contained, self-referential aesthetic object. The movement derived its name from John Crowe Ransom's 1941 book The New Criticism. The work of English scholar I. A. Richards, especially his Practical Criticism and The Meaning of Meaning, which offered what was claimed to be an empirical scientific approach, were important to the development of New Critical methodology. Also very influential were the critical essays of T. S. Eliot, such as "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and "Hamlet and His Problems", in which Eliot developed his notion of the "objective correlative". Eliot's evaluative judgments, such as his condemnation of Milton and Shelley, his liking for the so-called metaphysical poets and his insistence that poetry must be impersonal, greatly influenced the formation of the New Critical canon.
New Criticism developed as a reaction to the older philological and literary history schools of the US North, which, influenced by nineteenth-century German scholarship, focused on the history and meaning of individual words and their relation to foreign and ancient languages, comparative sources, and the biographical circumstances of the authors. These approaches, it was felt, tended to distract from the text and meaning of a poem and entirely neglect its aesthetic qualities in favor of teaching about external factors. On the other hand, the literary appreciation school, which limited itself to pointing out the "beauties" and morally elevating qualities of the text, was disparaged by the New Critics as too subjective and emotional. Condemning this as a version of Romanticism, they aimed for newer, systematic and objective method.
It was felt, especially by creative writers and by literary critics outside the academy, that the special aesthetic experience of poetry and literary language was lost in the welter of extraneous erudition and emotional effusions. Heather Dubrow notes that the prevailing focus of literary scholarship was on "the study of ethical values and philosophical issues through literature, the tracing of literary history, and ... political criticism". Literature was approached and literary scholarship did not focus on analysis of texts.
New Critics believed the structure and meaning of the text were intimately connected and should not be analyzed separately. In order to bring the focus of literary studies back to analysis of the texts, they aimed to exclude the reader's response, the author's intention, historical and cultural contexts, and moralistic bias from their analysis. These goals were articulated in Ransom's "Criticism, Inc." and Allen Tate's "Miss Emily and the Bibliographers".
Close reading (or explication de texte) was a staple of French literary studies, but in the United States, aesthetic concerns, and the study of modern poets was the province of non-academic essayists and book reviewers rather than serious scholars. But the New Criticism changed this. Though their interest in textual study initially met with resistance from older scholars, the methods of the New Critics rapidly predominated in American universities until challenged by Feminism and structuralism in the 1970s. Other schools of critical theory, including, post-structuralism, and deconstructionist theory, the New Historicism, and Receptions studies followed.
Although the New Critics were never a formal group, an important inspiration was the teaching of John Crowe Ransom of Vanderbilt University, whose students (all Southerners), Allen Tate, Cleanth Brooks, and Robert Penn Warren would go on to develop the aesthetics that came to be known as the New Criticism. Indeed, for Paul Lauter, a Professor of American Studies at Trinity College, New Criticism is a reemergence of the Southern Agrarians. In his essay, "The New Criticism", Cleanth Brooks notes that "The New Critic, like the Snark, is a very elusive beast", meaning that there was no clearly defined "New Critical" manifesto, school, or stance. Nevertheless, a number of writings outline inter-related New Critical ideas.